November 13, 2013

Eating well at work

I recently stopped by my hospital cafeteria in search of a quick bite. Instead of the fried food, large sodas and candy bars I might have spied in the past, I was pleasantly surprised. I observed stacks of fresh fruit on the counter and colleagues munching on salads and other healthy fare. Cafeteria kids shelf NW region Blackboard - wellness meals When I started a farmers market outside of my hospital in 2003, I had no idea how this idea of bringing fresh, healthy food to the workplace would catch on. In truth, it has taken us a while to bring it inside our doors. We started by bringing locally and sustainably grown produce to patient trays. Now, we are replacing donuts at our cafeterias with fresh fruit and other healthy fare. I truly believe that as a health care organization, we have an obligation to lead the way by providing the healthiest food possible, in order to promote the total health of our members, workforce, and the communities we serve. And it’s not just happening here in Oakland, just a few miles from Berkeley’s Chez Panisse restaurant and other meccas of the local, healthy food movement. Now, healthier choices are on the menu for all 37 of Kaiser Permanente hospital cafeterias as part of a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonpartisan non-profit charged with acting on the goals and vision of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. A year ago, Kaiser Permanente became 1 of 17 hospital systems committed to about a dozen measures for providing healthier food options in hospitals as part of PHA, which we helped found in 2010. The agreement calls for food offerings with fewer calories, less saturated fat, and a balance of nutritional ingredients, as well as more unsweetened drinks in cafeterias and for patient meals. A few examples of what you’ll now find include: -Marketing of only healthy food in our cafeterias -Only healthy food will be sold within five feet of cash registers -The cost of healthier food will be similar to or less than that of other food There’s no doubt that we still have a ways to go when it comes to setting the best example we can for our patients and communities. But when I see a colleague choose a crunchy apple over a candy bar, I am confident that there will be no turning back.